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Stonyhurst College, Shireburn Quadrangle, Ambulacrum and former Laboratories

A Grade II Listed Building in Aighton, Bailey and Chaigley, Lancashire

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Latitude: 53.847 / 53°50'49"N

Longitude: -2.4716 / 2°28'17"W

OS Eastings: 369069

OS Northings: 439080

OS Grid: SD690390

Mapcode National: GBR CR5Y.PP

Mapcode Global: WH96H.0KBN

Entry Name: Stonyhurst College, Shireburn Quadrangle, Ambulacrum and former Laboratories

Listing Date: 14 January 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1419721

Location: Aighton, Bailey and Chaigley, Ribble Valley, Lancashire, BB7

County: Lancashire

District: Ribble Valley

Civil Parish: Aighton, Bailey and Chaigley

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Hurst Green St John the Evangelist

Church of England Diocese: Blackburn

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Hurst Green


School buildings,1699 and later.


Roman Catholic boarding school comprising classrooms, communal areas, services and offices.

SHIREBURN QUADRANGLE: NORTH RANGE, 1699 for Sir Nicholas Shireburn, extended to west c1860 in similar style, altered to north-east corner c1922. EAST RANGE c1700, extended to south c1810 for Jesuits. KITCHEN BLOCK 1862.

AMBULACRUM: 1849-52, by J.A. Hansom. ART DEPARTMENT: c1861.

MATERIALS: sandstone ashlar or coursed dressed stone, chamfered plinths, string courses, hoodmoulds, parapets and copings; pitched roofs of graduated Lakeland or Welsh slate, mineral felt. Jacobean, late Georgian and C17 revival style.

PLAN: buildings arranged around the north, east and west sides of the Shireburn Quadrangle, with the Ambulacrum extending to the east.

EXTERIOR: SHIREBURN QUADRANGLE, NORTH RANGE of two phases: east part, 1699 for Sir Nicholas Shireburn, extended to west c1860 in similar style, with semi-elliptical arched cart entry, altered at east end c1922. Ashlar south elevation, 2 and a half storey with chamfered plinth, mullioned windows with hoodmoulds, chamfered or moulded doorways, gabled dormers with coped verges and ball finials. Central doorway to 3-bay primary phase has 1699 inscribed on lintel, 1922 inscribed to lintel of inserted doorway to right. Rear elevation is plainer, coursed stone, ventilation slits to ground and first floor, C20 inserted windows. EAST RANGE of two phases, north part c1700 for Sir Nicholas Shireburn, 3-storey, 5-bay west elevation, ashlar, with mullioned windows with hoodmoulds and moulded doorway, Welsh slate roof, ridge stacks. Rear elevation is coursed stone with 16-pane sashes and modern replacements. South block built c1810, the only surviving element of the Jesuits’ first south front, upper floor added mid C19. 3-storey, 5-bay, pairs of narrow sashes and 16-pane sash windows to ground floor, 36-pane sash windows to first floor, and 16-pane sashes to second floor, all in raised architraves, stone box gutter to pitched slate roof. C20 infill against south gable-end not of special interest. KITCHEN RANGE to west side, 3 to 4-storey, 3-bay block, 1862, ashlar, slate roof behind plain parapet. Chamfered plinth, string courses, tall mullioned and transomed windows to ground floor former kitchen, mullioned windows to upper floors and 4-storey south bay, cast-iron vents. To the north, a lean-to service block, c1860s, in similar revival style to the north range, with tall doorway, C20 infill to north not of special interest. South side of quadrangle enclosed by rear of South Front (qv).

AMBULACRUM: 1849-52 by J.A. Hansom. Indoor recreation hall built on former service yard behind the South Front. Ashlar walls, mineral felt and patent glazing to pitched roof. Modern floor is not of special interest.

ART DEPARTMENT: Former chemistry laboratory erected c.1810 as part of the Jesuits’ first South Front buildings, remodelled and extended to east in c1861. Abuts south side of Ambulacrum. Single-storey linear range sub-divided into three large top-lit laboratories or lecture halls, with 2-storey bay to east end, and taller primary phase block to the west. Dressed sandstone and cement render, pitched roofs with roof-lights. Entrance on south elevation, modern door flanked by fixed windows with top-lights. Canted bay window with sashes to east gable end. Flat roof over east end constructed in late C20, not of special interest.

AMBULACRUM has iron roof trusses and tongue-and-groove roof soffit, ashlar-lined walls. Floor is modern and not of special interest. Refurbished octagonal lantern ante-room to south-west.

ART DEPARTMENT has, three full-height rooms built as chemistry laboratories, instrument room or lecture rooms with decorative plasterwork to deep coved ceilings with moulded cornices and octagonal top-lights, part-glazed panelled screen between two rooms, panelled doors with brass fittings, windows retain ironmongery.

ANCILLARY FEATURES: Shireburn Quadrangle surface laid with sandstone setts, c1862. Pair of low coursed stone walls with curved ends and half-round copings enclose a former coal store, now the setting for Memorial to the St Omers martyrs, dated 1833, comprising fragments including the two-armed St Omers cross.


The buildings at Stonyhurst College grew out of a courtyard plan house commenced by Sir Richard Shireburn in 1592, on or close to the site of a medieval house. Work continued under his successors, including Sir Nicholas Shireburn who added classical features and a formal landscape setting after 1690. The Shireburns and their descendants were a notable recusant Lancashire Catholic family. Mary, the daughter of Sir Nicholas married the 8th Duke of Norfolk, inheriting the estate in 1732, but the house was largely unoccupied during the rest of the C18.

In 1794 the Society of Jesus fled from a temporary school in Liège, and came to Stonyhurst at the invitation of Thomas Weld, the Shireburns’ descendant. In 1809, Weld gifted the buildings and estate at Stonyhurst to the Jesuits. In 1803, the Society of Jesus was re-established in England at Stonyhurst under the Provincial Marmaduke Stone, although the Society was not formally recognised by the English Bishops until 1829. In this location, the school continued the lineage of Catholic boys’ education and the training of Jesuit priests for the English Mission established at Saint-Omer (St Omers), France by Father Robert Persons in 1593, following Elizabeth I's Protestant Religious Settlement of 1559. In affiliation to the University of London, from 1840 to 1916, Stonyhurst provided degree-level education for men (known as the Philosophers) at a time when Catholics were excluded from Oxford and Cambridge. As the centre for the Society of Jesus in England a seminary was maintained at St Mary’s Hall (NHLE 1362219) from 1828 to 1926. Stonyhurst has been co-educational since 1988, continuing to expand on the site and to adapt existing buildings. This long history of Catholic education is reflected in an important collection of Catholic and Jesuit artefacts, devotional relics and works of art, many in situ within the college buildings since the C19.

The Jesuits adapted the Shireburn domestic buildings and added new school ranges including Shirk, as well as striving towards self-sufficiency with its own gas plant for lighting and later a corn mill. As Catholic ambition and confidence grew after the Emancipation Act (1829), the Jesuits built (and still own) St Peter’s Church (1833-35), to serve local Catholics as well as the college. The college buildings expanded in the mid-C19 with the completion of the north side of the Front Quadrangle and the Sodality Chapel (1859). Further development in the mid-C19 included an infirmary, new kitchens, the Ambulacrum and extended chemistry laboratories. More ambitious rebuilding culminated in the new South Front and Boys Chapel designed by Dunn & Hansom, 1875-1888. Early C20 development included a gymnasium and physics laboratory and, in the 1960s, an accommodation block known as the New Wing.

This building was previously Listed under an entry on the NHLE which covered the entire complex of school buildings at Stonyhurst (NHLE 1072336).

Reasons for Listing

The Shireburn Quadrangle (1699, c1700 and later) with the Ambulacrum (1849-52 by J.A. Hansom) and adjoining former laboratories (c1810 and later) at Stonyhurst College are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural Interest: the buildings include elements of c1700 service buildings with the Ambulacrum (by the notable Catholic architect, J A Hansom) and former laboratories as particularly early examples of their building type in an educational context;
* Historical Interest: the late-C17 country house is associated with a prominent recusant Catholic family, the Shireburns. Stonyhurst was the destination for Jesuits fleeing continental persecution in 1794, and played a central role in the growth of the Roman Catholic Church in England throughout the C19 and C20, as the principal school and college for the Society of Jesus in England;
* Group Value: the Shireburn Quadrangle forms part of a strong group with other elements of the complex at Stonyhurst.

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